- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Catholic Church in Milwaukee shielded and defended from prosecution numerous priests accused of pedophilia, hundreds of newly released documents show. And among the document dump: New revelations that New York’s archbishop helped shield the church from the financial hit it was taking from sexual abuse charges.

The documents highlight legal testimony from Cardinal and Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who appealed to the Vatican for counsel on the cases while he served as archbishop in the Milwaukee church, 2002 to 2009, Reuters reported.

The paperwork spans 6,000 pages and details roughly 80 years of abuse cases. Some of the revelations: The Milwaukee archdiocese reassigned — rather than investigated — priests accused of sexual molestation to other churches.

And at one point, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Dolan himself asked the Vatican to move $57 million to a trust fund to keep it from being taken in looming court action — to protect it “from any legal claim and liability,” the court documents stated, Reuters said. The Vatican did approve the transfer, about a month later.

Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys representing 500 abuse victims, said that money was “to pay off some of the offenders to quietly go away,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, in 2011, the archdiocese in Milwaukee had to file for bankruptcy, due to the financial hit it was taking form sexual abuse claims.The bankruptcy judge subsequently ordered the documents to be released to the public.

Cardinal Dolan denied on Monday that his request to transfer the money was to shield the church from its sexual abuse scandal and keep it financially solvent. He only meant to have the money transferred to a “perpetual care fund” for use for church cemeteries, he said, Reuters reported.

So far, the Catholic Church has paid out about $3 billion in settlements due to sexual abuse cases, Reuters said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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